Happy 2016! I know it’s rather late in the game for me to be saying that, but this is my first post of 2016, and absolutely not to be the last. I have been telling some of my latest followers that it is my goal this year to establish a more regular blogging schedule. I am really learning so much in my life right now, and I want to share this journey with all of you. So, please help me stay accountable and be on the look out for a post from me bi-weekly (every 2 weeks)! I’ve made it a goal for this semester to be more regular and intentional about private and public self reflection, and my blog is a huge part of my public reflection. I’m so excited to continue in this process with you.
Now, to the meat of this post —
Over the last five and half months, I have been working with one of our graduate students, Kristina D’onofrio, on her Masters of Fine Arts thesis project. She had this amazing idea of incorporating the Psalms into dance, and when she told me about it in Fall 2014, I thought it was an amazing idea and definitely wanted to be a part of the work. When Fall finally came, I was still committed to working with her. However, it became really evident soon into the project that we have some really major aesthetic differences. She’s an extremely talented ballet dancer, and I have never ever wanted to be a “‘trina” and have become really steeped in modern dance since I’ve been in this department. I found myself feeling way out of my comfort zone and struggling to master the choreography as quickly the others were.
Then, we started having rehearsals with dancers from BalletMet’s trainee program — girls that were hard core ballerinas aiming to make real, professional careers out of ballet. I was so intimidated. I had a scheduling conflict that caused me to be late to rehearsals, and so I would always be a little confused about what was happening. This compounded with the insecurities I felt about being around these girls who were dancing in pointe and left me doubting myself. I came into every rehearsal thinking, “These BalletMet dancers must think that I am a fat, lardo, trainwreck of a dancer.” (So many of my insecurities are still body centered, but I’m working on it.) I started dreading those two hours twice a week, and I saw myself as really insignificant to the overall success of the piece. I spent a lot of time thinking, “How late is too late to drop out? If I had known I would feel this way back in October, I would have definitely quit then.” I carried this with me right into tech week.
But then, I had an amazing speaker come in and talk to my Buckeye Leadership Fellows cohort. His name was Dwight Smith, and he founded a program called My Special Word, which goes out and talks to young people about their values and then helps them to come up with a word or group of words that they feel encompasses who they are or who they want to become. He led my group through a similar activity. The word I came up with is creator. I want to create a better world for girls like me, especially in dance. This has long been my goal. I’m a dancer and a writer; I create movement, stories, and worlds with my body and with my words. There — that’s who I am. This reminder was so focusing and clarifying.
Here I was on the night of dress rehearsal suddenly realizing that I had been approaching this entire experience the wrong way. I got to perform this past week. That’s what I want to do with my life. Not everybody has that opportunity, and I am so blessed to have even held a small part in making Kristina’s vision into reality. Beyond that, I learned what it’s like to reconcile aesthetic differences; the challenge of this work will be in my heart and mind in the future, because I know that I’m not going to always like every dance that I’m a part of. I also walk away from this experience with new friends — it’s so great to have bonded with dancers in a different field, and I hate that it took me so long to open up and let them in. I found out that many of them were feeling the same way that I was about the choreography, and it was really cool to learn about their unique lives.
My mom always told me that your attitude can make a world of a difference in your situation. She’s so right. My performance was so much better because I finally brought an attitude of thankfulness and joy to my work.
Thank you so much, Kristina, for not giving up on me and letting me be a part of this. I’m truly forever grateful.
Blessings and Light.
Enjoy some pics of me and my cast!